In this episode, Andy discusses the importance of adding unique, fresh content to your website with brand journalist, Don Simkovich.
Don Simkovick is a freelance brand journalist for www.DonSimkovick.com. From a media background in newspaper and radio, today Don provides a variety of content services to Professional Services as well as eCommerce businesses.
Listen to discover what Don thinks are the most important ways companies can incorporate new, fresh content.
ABOUT THE HOST:
Andy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.
New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.
Andy Splichal 0:10
Well, welcome to the Make Each Click Count Podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. And today I'm being joined by a special guest. He works as a brand journalist offering services to both e-commerce as well as professional service businesses creating content for both online and offline use. A big welcome to Don Simkovich. Hello, Don, how are you?
Don Simkovich 1:20
Hi, Andy. Doing well, hey, thanks for having me on.
Andy Splichal 1:23
Yeah, it's a pleasure. It's a pleasure. You know, before we get into today's topic, which is the importance of adding unique fresh content to your website, let's give the audience a look behind the curtain mouth, who they're going to be hearing from what, what's a fun or interesting fact that most people might not know about you?
Don Simkovich 1:43
Well, I did a relay across the United States running it, you'd say about 40 pounds ago is actually in 1995. So a while ago, I did it with several friends, and we raising money for nonprofit we're all working for. But we ran from Boston to Pasadena. And each did about I did about 110 miles a week, for five weeks. And after that ran a marathon in Phoenix, it almost broke the two hour 50 minute mark didn't quite do that. But it was a lot of fun. And just got to see the United States in a whole different way than I had seen it before.
Andy Splichal 2:26
I could imagine I don't think there's many people who have seen it like that.
Don Simkovich 2:30
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. We we had it was the days before cell phones. And if you think about what communication is like today, so we would, you know, each of us we had this idea of how we were going to run, you know, we would do maybe seven eight miles at a time. And then we had a motorcycle and then one couple had a Toyota. I can't remember what Corolla maybe at the time in to shuttle. And then we had a big like camper that we were all gonna sleep in. And so things went, we had to make adjustments really quickly. Because running out in Boston through the traffic and long some of this, you know, highways to get into western Massachusetts, it was like up, we had to make adjustments. And we had to learn how to find each other because we couldn't call a cell which is hard to believe. And we use pay phones and you know, we would wait wait and just had to be patient. And so it was a great, really there was seven of us wound up with other people along the way for certain segments. So great, great way to do team building.
Andy Splichal 3:35
Now, did you divvy that up by length or by time? So like, the slow person, you have to run twice as long?
Don Simkovich 3:42
Yeah, no, that's funny. We had we were going to do it like by length, but by day two or day three were to hit people who, like one guy had pulled a muscle. So he went up, like for a couple of days. He just did like two miles. And like I said, We made adjustments. And, you know, we we thought we had it down that before we started. And I suppose it's probably a good analogy for the business world to get land on paper. And this is what's going to happen and all of a sudden, it's like UPS, you know, this, you run into a pandemic or something, you got to make adjustments. So sure. But it was a lot of fun. It's actually it was one of the first and only times that I had rode a motorcycle and I hadn't read hadn't written one before that and I really haven't written one since I can't remember what kind it was, but I got pretty comfortable on it. And it was it was a little nerve wracking in some areas. So it was just as we shuttled that, but it was a lot of fun. We did it in started late September and into actually like the third week of September and so finished in mid October, which just a great time of the year.
Andy Splichal 4:50
Wow. Well, I'm sure you must have been tired after that.
Don Simkovich 4:54
You know? Yeah, actually, that wasn't really the issue. I'd be felt pretty good. Get back I mean, once you get, you know, I was in, I was in good shape thin and, you know, just kind of got in better shape. And you know, we had all day to do it for, you know, five weeks, we weren't really and under any time pressure. So that that helped. But yeah, then, you know, just to kind of, I was just glad I got through it injury free.
Andy Splichal 5:18
Yeah. Well, today, you're now working as a brand journalist. How did you how did you get started is as a brand journalist?
Don Simkovich 5:28
Yeah, it was right after college, I studied English writing and Speech Communications at the University of Pittsburgh and got a job. My first job was in radio news, in Central PA State College to be exact where Penn State is, which was a great little station to start out in. And because we took news very seriously. So I was the afternoon on the afternoon shift there for I was there for a year, and then came out here to work in a small magazine for a nonprofit organization and then spent 20 years doing a really kind of an unusual human interest, radio spot series. And then went into public relations for a nonprofit, my wife and I have adopted our kids out of the foster care system. And at that time, I went to one on staff with a nonprofit, that was a community based one. And we helped recruit other people. I did a lot of PR work with local media, as well. And and so I had that journalist hat on for a long time. But then through that, in the nonprofit world, I also worked with the fundraising teams. So I started to put on the marketing, Edo hat. And then by early 2003, I was working with small businesses advising them and, you know, really wanting to help them grow. I had gotten a master's in Communication Management from USC from the Annenberg School of Communication. And so what I do now is a call it a brand journalist. It really is, you know, asking my clients questions, like, as though I'm a journalist, you're combining both that investigative or kind of fact finding that a journalist does with the brand building that a marketer does. And so it's combining those two. And, and really, it's, you're really looking, I think, what it helps to do is really look at the audience, you know, what is it that they need to know, what do they want to know? And that's the journalist side. And but you're, you're bringing in, what do they need to know? What's their problem? And the brand is the solution. And so, you know, I bring both of those together.
Andy Splichal 7:52
Okay. And is the brand journalist, is that a saturated field? Or is that? Is there? Is there any brand journalist out there? Or is it more of a unique position?
Don Simkovich 8:09
You know, I started thinking of myself that way, a few years ago, in terms of the work that I did, and then I started seeing it pop up online. And, you know, I think what you have today, you know, just not too long ago was called advertorials. And, you know, I believe that, in what I've read is, you know, you have a lot of companies or brands that they're publishing, right information, they're publishing content, that they want that to be solutions oriented. And so rather than just having a bunch of salespeople, it's almost like today's brand journalists. You know, I'd imagine all big brands employed and, and I think smaller brands could, you know, benefit from, from that as well is that if you look at yourself as a publisher with your blog, or you know, you've got a podcast, then, you know, you're you're combining that you're really speaking to the audience, you know, to their need. And so, you know, it's, it's a term that maybe isn't really widely known, I think a lot of especially small business owners, or, you know, professionals think of someone who's a copywriter, and I really don't consider myself all that I can be a copywriter to me, that's much more advertising. So right it's a brand journalist is saying, hey, let's you know, we put together a put together articles or make, I'll make a client's blog post, kind of read, like, you know, a human interest story that you might find, you know, in a magazine or newspaper.
Andy Splichal 9:37
And what what are some of the projects that you typically work on for for your clients?
Don Simkovich 9:44
You know, often I'm helping them with their blog posts and writing. You know, what I called a festive category blog post where you want to cover something at 1000 to 1500 words that really answers key questions. And so, you know, in doing that all kind of hunt around the internet, you know, to find out the questions that they have. And then in the past some, you know, projects that I've worked on that have been kind of fun when I was in the nonprofit world with this adoption foster family agency, we worked with, I worked with ABC News, reporter and producer, you know, to help them put together a segment years ago, it was Peter Jennings, people might remember who
Andy Splichal 10:31
Don Simkovich 10:32
run ABC News. And so we did a segment and he was toasting called solutions. And that was a lot of fun. And that actually became our organization's video for a couple years saved us a lot of money.
Andy Splichal 10:43
Don Simkovich 10:44
We got for free, you know, after on ABC news.
Andy Splichal 10:47
With with the legend? Yeah.
Don Simkovich 10:48
Yeah. And but to show how diverse that you know, I've been in industries, you know, a financial planner, who actually specialized in foreign exchange trading with clients, I got him mentioned on channel nine, you know, some years to go, and, and then I helped a woman she was lead, she was an executive in the fashion industry, and a buyer and she was launching a brand handcrafted furniture line. And so I helped her do kind of a whole study into that, and, you know, comparing to, you know, what her brand might be in messaging compared to, you know, what else was existing. And then ghost wrote a book for a dental specialist to prosthodontist, dealing with oral cancer patients. So I've worked, you know, in a variety of industries. And they all I'd say, a lot of it really comes down to the principles. In fact, one of my clients today, he's a is a roofing company. So you can see just a diverse group of people that I've worked with, but it really comes down to, you know, what's the benefit and all asking this question, you know, what's the need of my audience? What's the need of the customer? And, you know, how do I meet that need? How do I improve their lives? How do I make their lives better? How do I save them time and money. And I remember when I started off in News Radio, my first news director, he just said, You know what, it's all about saving money. We're spending money. Everything revolves around money's that all the news does. And it's a lot, there's a lot of truth to that. And so I think today, you know, how do we, how do we save money? How do we make more money in our business? How do we save time? You know, what, how do we get more done? And so it's really looking into that, taking those principles on how do we make our lives better, that allows me to work with a really diverse group of clients?
Well, everybody, for sure cares about the bottom line. Now, a question I might have, so the majority of listeners to this podcast, do they run ecommerce businesses? So where would you see a service such as yours being beneficial for an Ecommerce company?
You know, it could be everything from product descriptions on a site to providing specific knowledge pages. You know, let's say that someone doesn't necessarily want to do a blog post. But, you know, what is Google reward really, they don't make it, you know, they don't make a distinction between Ecommerce sites and any other sites, this really goes across the border for all websites, and they reward sites that have you know, relevant, useful content for the reader coming across it or that audience. And so, you know, in Ecommerce, you know, what are your products? Do, you know, why should someone buy now, so it's good to combine, I think, some discovery, you know, that kind of journalistic with copywriting, you know, in the nice, you know, enticing headlines subheads, and then, you know, it could be story could be maybe three sentences or something, you know, product description, but then also, you know, what's going to lead someone to maybe put in their email for follow up, and, you know, to build that email campaign to maintain or build a relationship, and, you know, I can do that as well. So there are, you know, a number of ways specific, like I said, specific knowledge pages or a blog post, you know, could be beneficial, and, let's say has, you know, three or four pages that were maybe on different topics, and they were more stay static, but, you know, a few, you know, 1000 words, each, you know, could really help give the site a boost, and then, you know, leading some of the product pages and having some, you know, valuable links to credible third party sources can make that a really relevant site.
Andy Splichal 14:46
And now, you know, you know, typically SEO search engine optimization, fresh content is has always been for long been the cornerstone of running an effective SEO campaign or getting your paid just ranked higher organically? Have you seen that to be true in your experience of writing content for for different companies?
Don Simkovich 15:09
I have. And I think one area where it really pays off well is with companies. And this certainly applies to e commerce companies. You do have specialties, you know, whether your professional health provider, like I wrote blog posts for over a year for a chiropractor, whose specialty was Upper Cervical Chiropractic. And so he was dealing a lot with the first two vertebrae. And there was so much that went into that. So what I did here was is practices in downtown LA in Koreatown, actually. So I wrote a lot of posts that were very say localized, speaking to people who might either be executives working in high rises around him, or, you know, the weekend warriors who are in the, you know, match LA Metro softball leagues, or soccer leagues, you know, and so, also then bringing in like, stores where you could buy, you know, great produce, and foods that say, reduced inflammation. So I kind of went through the life of a customer or his kind of client, and you know, who they were, you know, where did they were? Where did they go shopping. And so I brought that in. And, you know, over the course of over a year, I began to see his rankings rise. And also, the Google Search Console was really helpful in terms of, you know, seeing the use of phrases like chiropractors near me, you know, chiropractors, Wilshire Boulevard, chiropractors, you know, pregnancies, you know, and just these these different hits. So it was, it was gratifying to see, I think it's a great thing about the internet, that kind of like, you know, the short term bumps or stats can be really fun to look for. And, you know, can be a little perplexing, as you know, but, but I have seen it, you know, the SEO work. And I think, again, for small companies, especially that don't have big budgets, you know, if you can focus it on, you know, something specific that a niche that you have a specialty, or you know, you have real special products, that that helps a lot.
Andy Splichal 17:22
Yeah, no, I can see that. And you also mentioned the Google Search Console, which very useful when you're trying to get better organic rankings. Now, what would you say if somebody out there who's, who's thinking this sounds great. But, you know, why wouldn't I just try to write my own content or hire somebody on Fiverr who, says, I'll do it for five bucks instead of looking at it in finding a professional writer like yourself?
Don Simkovich 17:50
Because I have a really good sense of humor. Like until that goes beyond that I know, you know, there's the big picture answer is, you know, if you think about it, online competition is stronger than ever. And latest statistics, I've heard there's one website for every seven people on Earth. Yeah, so you know, you're looking at about a billion websites, and you think of all the blog posts, so there's number one, there's a lot to cut through. And, you know, that really takes deliberate messaging, and, you know, to make your site that's absolutely relevant. So, you know, really gone are the days of taking two or three or four keywords or keyword phrases, and, you know, writing a blog post of four or 500 words, and just repeating it over and over again. So the the stuff, you know, that posts, and that's been, that's really been gone for a while. And, you know, the other is that some companies will do is, you know, trying to appeal to people geographically, it's like, you know, best, the best sandwiches in Pasadena, our best sandwiches in Albuquerque, or, you know, whatever that might be it just repeating and repeating the names of the cities. But it's a lot more than that. And so the planning aspect, if what I can offer and what I really enjoy taking people through is really strategic planning component at the beginning. And that doesn't have to be long. It doesn't have to be, you know, tedious in any way. But it can really open up your eyes to say, what is it that you're saying, you know, why? And I really like to help people tackle their why. And then merging that with what the customer need is. So why are you in business? What's the need of your customer? And then in that, you know, what a writer one of the reasons you'd hire writers because, I mean, anybody can write you know, we do it all the time, right? Whether it's rants on Twitter, Facebook, or, you know, emails to people, but a writer, professional writers should be able to say, I'm going to take your ideas, I'm gonna make them very readable. I'm going to make them fun and engaging. And then there's the structure. So using, say, turns of phrases and then you also Follow a structure from the beginning with the title and a subtitle, you know, to catch that audience attention, and then to engage them from your point one, point 2, point3, and then lead them to a conclusion where they want to download a free report, they want to try something, they want to get a free, you know, product, whatever that might be. And, and, you know, it takes take something, it's a little bit deliberate with that, what I can do if somebody does want to write, and they can do it consistently, I mean, I can help give them like a formula to follow or a format, which I think is very important, and plus an editorial calendar. So one of things I'd like to do is to help people plan out, what are you going to say, for the next six months, or maybe next year, you know, what are some things we want to highlight so that, you know, we can have, we can educate the customer along the way, so that's in the big picture, that's what it comes down to. I think like anything, you know, you can have fun with it, you can be you can adapt, and if you hire me, and somebody still wants to write, you know, maybe a two or 300 words, it's kind of crazy, fun blog, depending on their personality, and depending on the brand of their company, they can do that. And you know, have the right something that's, you know, maybe a deliberate 1000 word or 1500, 2000 word post, that, you know, is very specific to a series of products or, you know, something that you want your customer to follow. So it's that it's structuring it in a way that you get people to, to follow it really quickly. And I just did an example of that. I was just doing some content for an online insurance agency, and they're open 24 hours, seven days a week, run by one guy, so you know, you must chat people to help them or what, but you know, just real, something, something real simply works with contractors and auto mechanics and landlords that I just hit a road something like, you know, hey, if you're eating your breakfast early, or you know, you're getting a midnight snack, and all of a sudden, you're thinking about, you know, does your business have enough coverage? Or do you need a certificate of insurance, then give me a call. And so he's this ghost writing for him. And so, you know, it's real simple, but it's that kind of a situation that, you know, it's kind of drawing in my life experience, but then also, you're just really putting yourself in the customer's shoes. And the other, there's another principle that, that plays out well, in having hiring somebody to come in and do your content, or, you know, hiring me specifically is, it's hard for us, it's always difficult to edit your own material. And I actually do have an editor I work with, he's my, my secret sauce behind the scenes. So when I work with customers actually have a, you know, someone else who will help, you know, edit, he'll go through, pick out awkward phrases and sentences, clarify some things and boom. And so, you know, I found that to be really helpful, so I can play that role.
Andy Splichal 23:07
So you get so you're gonna get to two sets eyes, you give your customers in?
Don Simkovich 23:12
Yeah, you know, really do and I found it, you know, very helpful. He's, I also write fiction. And so he's a my fiction writing partner, but, but he's good at picking out, you know, awkward phrases, and, you know, say, hey, why don't you this sentence? Why don't you reverse these two, two ideas here and there. So it's a little bit extra just to get the best, you know, most readable copy possible and just really improve the customer experience.
Andy Splichal 23:40
Seems like a good system. And I think you made some great points I liked when you said deliberate messaging, which is very important and and of course, figuring out your why for businesses is be great. So if somebody was interested in what you do, and might want some fresh content and some of the different forms, you're able to deliver it, how would they get into contact with you don?
Don Simkovich 24:03
Well, first of all, go you can go to socalcontentwriting.com. socalcontentwriting.com. That's my new website and putting up blog posts their work to do on the site itself. So socalcontentwriting.com. Find me on LinkedIn, great place love hanging out there and putting up stuff and also I like promoting other people too, is I can, I like to network anyone who I do business with. You know, I like to help them if I can link network them as well. So Don Simkovich on LinkedIn, and then text me if you want my phone number, go just send me shoot me a text 818-667-1789 and just say hey, you heard the podcast and you want to know a little bit more and be happy to give you a call.
Andy Splichal 24:56
And do you have any special offers or anything going right now for Make each click count podcast listeners?
Don Simkovich 25:03
Yeah, I sure do. One easy kind of piece that I'd be happy to give you. An article in PDF form is an easy writing strategy to regularly produce engaging content. So long title, but, you know, I just, I have some great tips in there. So you get that and easy writing strategy to produce engaging content, some little actionable steps you can put to use right away, if you want to give it a shot also gives you look into what I do. And then if somebody wants me for a full day, I mean, eight hours, 10 hours, a whole day of service $250 You know, for for a day use me to, you know, we can do some strategic planning, I can do some, you know, write a few blog posts out of that, do some comparisons to, you know, what you have in your industry, and give you an idea of, you know, write up some content and maybe headlines to show you what a fresh, you know, fresh website could look like, you know, or maybe if you want to do some copywriting for some postcards, you know, brochures, that sort of thing, so it could actually get quite a bit done. So the full day for $250. And then you can also just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and get an easy writing strategy to produce engaging, content.
Andy Splichal 26:28
Cool. And for those who might have a hard time stoner that's d s i m k o v i c h right?
Don Simkovich 26:34
Andy Splichal 26:35
Don Simkovich 26:36
Yes, I'm sure a lot of people will have no d. Letter d as in Dandy, and then s i m, as in Michael k o v, as in Victor email@example.com.
Andy Splichal 26:48
All right, well, that sounds like a great offer for those that would be interested in. So that is it for today. Remember, if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave a five star review. And if you're looking for fresh, unique content that you can reach out to Don either through the different methods he just mentioned, or within the Make Each Click Count Facebook group Don has just joined the Make Each Click Count Facebook group so if you have questions for him, feel free to go ahead and ask him in there as well. So remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing, and I will talk to you in the next episode